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ON THE HUNT: Rock hounders search for rocks, gems and crystals across Idaho

Posted at 3:15 PM, May 16, 2024

OWYHEE COUNTY, Idaho — The Gem State is littered with deposits of gorgeous rocks, gems, and crystals... you just need to know where to look. The Earth Brite Rock Hounders spend their time exploring the state, searching for those hidden treasures.

(Below is the transcript from the broadcast story)

"You'll never get skunked out here… There's a nice chunk of agate right there, that's a nodule," says Kurt Branham, owner of Earth Brite Rock Shop, as he digs for agate.

Out in the hills near Homedale, the Earth Brite Rock Hounders are on the hunt.

"It's kinda like treasure hunting, you don't know what you're gonna find until you find it,” says Branham.

He takes his group of rock hounders on monthly trips all over Idaho in search of rocks, gems, and crystals.

"Yeah a lot of the best gems in the world have been found here… and rocks that aren’t good for anything we call ‘leaverites’... leave it right there,” joked Branham.

"The thrill of the hunt I guess you could say,” says Jane Groves, a rock hounder with the club.

The thrill of the hunt helps her get out of the house.

"You never know what you're gonna find," added Groves.

Chris Partridge tells me he and his wife go rock-hounding nearly every weekend after being introduced to the hobby.

"Lots of fun, lots of nice people, and sometimes you find really cool things… most of the time nothing but sometimes you get lucky," says Partridge.

All this digging leaves the rock hounders with buckets of rocks and gems that can weigh up to 60 pounds. My bucket only weighed about 20 pounds.

Next, I took my haul of agate to one of the group’s two clubhouses to make cuts on a diamond blade saw.

After they're cut, the materials make their way to the cab machine, where six wheels of varying grit smooth and polish the rocks until I was left with this…

It's a hobby as old as time…

"The appeal is that they're finding something that nobody else has discovered that's been here for millions of years… I'll probably be doing this when I'm in a wheelchair,” says Branham.

And in the Treasure Valley, a unique community heading outdoors... to get digging.

"Instead of going fishing, I fish for rocks… And I just drag people along with me," Branham added.

"Just get out there, get your hands dirty, and have fun! You never know what you're gonna pull out of the ground," says Jay Lyman, as he searches for small pieces of agate and crystals.